A Narrow Escape from Death.
Gray Coleman, colored, had a narrow escape from being burned to death on Friday night last. He had retired leaving the fire burning to assist in keeping out the cold, but hardly to the extent that the result proved. Some time in the night he awoke to find to find the house ablaze. After he had gone round the room to wake his children he only had time to get out before the building fell in. The entire house and contents were destroyed with the exception of one trunk which Coleman seized as he made a wild dash for the outer air. Coleman is much distressed over his loss, and especially the death of his four faithful dogs who were burned with the building.
Wilson Advance, 21 February 1895.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Squier Coleman, 47, wife Nancy, 36, and children Gray, 18, Mary, 16, Afonzo, 9, Margret, 4, and Thomas, 2, plus Cassa Jordan, 70, Riley Jordan, 7, and Thomas Jordan, 25.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Gray Coleman, 28, wife Harriet, 26, and children Henrietta, 4, Lea, 2, and Eddie, 9 months, plus Molly Strickland, 7.
In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: widower farmer Gray Coleman, 51.
On 1905, Gray Coleman, 56, married Cary Woodard, 45, in Old Fields township.
In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on County Line Road, farmer Gray Coleman, 63, wife Caroline, 58, daughter Mamie, 17, and step-grandson Clarence Barnes, 2. The surrounding households: farmer Alfonzo Coleman, 45 Squire Justice Coleman, 24,
Gray Coleman apparently died after 1910 and before about 1914, when the state began to require death certificates. His undated estate contains an inventory of his personal property and his widow Carrie’s dower.
North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.